A regional publisher is set to launch a city news website with the creation of five new jobs – but has insisted it will not seek to compete with existing local titles there.
Archant has announced PeterboroughMatters.co.uk will go live in spring 2020 as part of Google-funded initiative Project Neon, which will see the company launch up to three local news websites in total.
Project Neon was launched as part of Google News Initiative local experiments project, which aims to target up to three UK communities “identified as being currently underserved by local news”.
However Archant has moved to deny Peterborough Matters will compete with the title – saying instead it will instead “try to build significantly higher levels of daily engagement with users through an innovative blend of community-driven content, useful information and local advertising”.
Archant is now recruiting an initial staff for Peterborough Matters, including one commercial and four editorial roles.
Matt Kelly, pictured, Archant’s chief content officer, said: “Local journalism’s survival is so crucial, yet today its long-term future is under threat because nobody has yet cracked the challenge of making it profitable in a digital-only world.
“Like so many other communities in the UK, Peterborough has seen provision of local journalism shrink significantly over the years.
“Project Neon is all about experimenting with different models of journalism and business to create a sustainable business based on high quality, useful community content, and challenging some received wisdoms as we do it.
“What we learn, we will share openly with the industry and in doing so we hope to play a part in ensuring local news once again thrives.”
Archant says Peterborough was chosen because it is one of the UK’s fastest-growing cities with a population of around 200,000, has “a very clear identity, strong sense of community” and no longer has a daily newspaper of its own since the Telegraph went weekly in 2012.
Emily Hewitt, Archant’s head of audience, said: “We want to try to get closer to the people of Peterborough than anything that’s been before.
“That means going back to the drawing board to rethink what local journalism means and how it is done and how it pays for itself.
“If we get it right, readers and advertisers will think Peterborough Matters isn’t just another local news brand, but a vibrant community platform that belongs to them.”